Tag Archives: Libraries

A fellow island library – Matinicus Island

My bucket list includes a visit to Matinicus Island. Some people think Long Island is the wild frontier, but of all the populated Maine islands, Matinicus seems like the one that is especially on the edge of civilization.

A recent article in the Bangor Daily News, more about banned books than about the library, brought to light this small island’s tiny library. It was picked up by the Smithsonian magazine, NBC news, NPR, Portland Press Herald. One of the best articles is by author Eva Murray, on the Maine Boats website.

I shared the Bangor Daily News article with some of my fellow LICL board members, and we thought that the Matinicus Library’s experience mirrored ours, almost 35 years ago, when we started up our island library. (See our blog post about our own humble beginnings)

The Matinicus Island Library was founded in 2016, beginning its life in an 8×10 foot shed. In 2020 they added an adjoining shed. They now have a children’s room. The library is run solely by volunteers, like the Long Island Community Library. As Eva Murray says, “Matinicus is neither stylish nor convenient as a tourist destination,” which makes it all the more appealing. Hopefully they will someday welcome this fellow islander (and librarian) to their beloved island library.

For information, see their Facebook page.

Mobile librarians in fiction

There seems to be spate of novels recently about mobile librarians – that is, librarians not in the traditional “brick and mortar” library. Of course, this is nothing new – years ago Masha Hamilton wrote “The camel bookmobile,” about a bookmobile in Kenya. I recently read, “The library at the edge of the world,” by Felicity Hayes-McCoy, which is about an Irish librarian who drives a bookmobile, from time to time.

Closer to home, and more recently, one can find both “Giver of stars,” by JoJo Moyes and “The book woman of Troublesome Creek” by Kim Michele Richardson, novels centered on the Kentucky Pack Horse library service.  

In researching this blog, I came across Mary Lemist Titcomb (May 16, 1852–June 5, 1932), a librarian who developed an early American bookmobile and helped establish a county library system in Washington County, Maryland. A recent book about her, “Library on wheels : Mary Lemist Titcomb and America’s first bookmobile” by Sharlee Glenn, tells more of her story. We have Mary Lemist Titcomb to thank for this wonderful concept of bringing books to the people!

Tea and libraries

I just came across this – how exciting to combine two of my favorite things: tea and libraries ! (for a good cause)

Friend —

We are excited to partner with Arbor Teas, a family-owned organic tea company based in Ann Arbor, Michigan to create a new way of supporting libraries in the United States. You can now purchase tea for yourself, friends, family, and for your staff at your office through Arbor Teas and they will donate 10% of each purchase if you use the coupon code EveryLibrary at checkout. That means you can give the gift of tea AND give American communities the gift of literacy and learning through libraries.
Buy your teas from Arbor Teas this Holiday Season and use the coupon code EVERYLIBRARY to support libraries in the United States.
“Our primary focus is delivering the highest quality organic teas as sustainably as possible, but underpinning this is a passion to use our success to do good and give back,” said Aubrey Lopatin, co-founder at Arbor Teas. “That’s why Arbor Teas is excited to become a sustaining contributor to EveryLibrary’s efforts to rally communities in support of libraries facing funding challenges.”
Arbor Teas first partnered with the library community to support the Ann Arbor District Library’s Summer Game 2017, a points-based program that rewards reading and library use. EveryLibrary and Arbor Teas view this promotion as the beginning of an ongoing partnership which may include other charitable programs in the future.
Individuals looking to support this new partnership can shop online at www.arborteas.com for certified organic teas as well as teaware, gifts and tea-infused sweets. At checkout, enter EveryLibrary as the coupon code, which will remain active indefinitely as a means to generate ongoing funding for library campaigns. One-time and sustaining donations can also be made directly to EveryLibrary at: action.everylibrary.org/donate.

More information is available at: https://www.arborteas.com/everylibrary

Adirondack libraries

A recent vacation in the Adirondack mountains of New York found us, as usual, visiting libraries.

Some we only saw from the outside: the lovely stone library in Brandt Lake is no longer used as a library, but offers a picturesque photo opportunity.

Adirondack libraries - Brandt Lake

Lake Placid’s library was located on the main street, and offered a box of “free” stuff on the porch steps.

Adirondack libraries - Lake Placid

Raquette Lake’s library had steps from the water and tucked in a grove of trees.

Adirondack libraries - Raquette Lake

But some libraries we were able to visit inside. One was the Adirondack Museum’s library.  Yes, the museum had closed for the season a month earlier, but thanks to a brilliant tip from a friend, I had previously e-mailed the librarian, Dr. Jerold Pepper, to ask for a tour. Jerry not only showed us his wonderful library full of great books and fabulous manuscripts, highlighting such characters as Winslow Homer and the Roosevelts, but he also gave us a behind the scenes tour of the closed exhibits, including boats, carriages, and sleds. There are some interesting commonalities between Maine and the Adirondacks, including history and art. (Both Rockwell Kent and Winslow Homer spent time in Maine and the Adirondacks). We also enjoyed Jerry’s perspective on life in that region, an area “forever wild.”

We also stopped into The William Chapman White Memorial Room/Adirondack Research Center in the basement of the Saranac Lake Free Library, and chatted with the slightly overwhelmed looking librarian, who was cataloging tuberculosis patient cards. Saranac Lake was known as “the Western Hemisphere’s foremost center for the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis,” from the 1890s through 1950s.

Adirondack libraries - Saranac Lake

Both libraries gave us a glimpse into the history of the area. Visiting libraries on vacation can be a great opportunity to get a flavor of the community, whether exploring exhibits or meeting people in the community, including visitors who come to our own island library.

Little Free Library

In writing my series on Casco Bay Island libraries, it occurred to me that some of the islands, such as the Diamonds, need a “Little Free Library” to make books more accessible in their communities. What is a Little Free Library, you may ask? According to good old Wikipedia, Little Free Libraries are a community movement in the United States and worldwide that offers free books housed in small containers to members of the local community. They are also referred to as community book exchanges, book trading posts, and pop-up libraries.Little Free Library in Seattle

The idea was popularized in Hudson, Wisconsin when Todd Bol mounted a wooden container designed to look like a school house on a post on his lawn as a tribute to his mother, who was a book lover and school teacher. Bol shared his idea with his partner Rick Brooks who found many efficient ways to spread the word, and the idea spread rapidly. Library owners can create their own library box, usually about the size of a doll house, or purchase one from the website. Libraries may be registered for a fee and assigned a number at the organization’s website. Libraries can be found through their GPS coordinates. Owners receive a sign that reads “Little Free Library”. They often have the phrase, “Take a Book. Leave a Book.”[3][4]

In Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, the village is requiring a church to take down their Little Free Library, worrying about inappropriate material being placed and saying that there was no point in a Little Free Library due to the public library. [5] Whitefish Bay is, in addition, denying permission to any family that asks to have a Little Free Library placed in their front yard.[5]

Libraries have been donated to rural areas that have no libraries of their own, or that have been ravaged by disasters. As of February 2013, all 50 states and 40 countries worldwide have been involved in the literary program. There are currently 5000 registered Little Free Libraries in the world, with an estimated 1000 unregistered.[6]

Each Library is uniquely built incorporating materials from the community it is located in.

According to the official website, the closest ones to Long Island are in Falmouth, South Portland, and Cape Elizabeth.

Of course, on Long Island we are blessed to have our beautiful library, open every day of the week, but for many communities, that are either too small or seasonal to sustain a library, or those that are unable to afford a library due to economics, this is a fun and easy way to share literature with your neighbors.

For more information see:


[photo is of a Little Free Library in the Wedgewood neighborhood in Seattle, taken by Nancy N. in October 2013)

Libraries on the Diamond Islands

Next, we head to the Diamond Islands to see what they offer their communities as far as libraries. On Great Diamond Island, Elwell Hall, in the village, has a small library, created by Jane Laughlin. It’s seasonal, open in the summer to Diamond Island Association members and their guests, when the hall, which recently celebrated its 100th anniversary, is open. It’s mostly items donated, including cookbooks, fiction, and children’s books.Diamond Island Rose

On the fort side, there is a small library in the Diamond Cove Association building. Both of these libraries are informal, without a checking out system. Mostly a book swap of sorts. On Little Diamond, there is no physical place for a library, but people do read a lot in the summer, and have an informal book swap.

So, if there is a need for a good book to read, after the ferry leaves, there are opportunities available on Little and Great Diamond Islands.

Cliff Island’s library: The Stone Library

Cliff Island’s library is probably the only official library in Casco Bay that is housed in a classic turn-of-the-century cottage, built in 1907. Perched on a hillside, just beyond the community hall, which houses the post office and historical society, this beautiful library was named after Floraetta Stone (The Stone Library), a co-founder of the library (1907) and the Cliff Island Library Club which still operates the library. The library offers services in the summer only (although has been known to be open in the winter in the past). The paid librarian, Amy Lent, is also the postmaster (a true Mainer!). Although the library is technically a membership library, it balances being a public library by offering services to anyone who needs it. Books, books-on-tape, CDs, DVDs are offered, as well as classic Maine books – all of which can be accessed through the Cliff Island Stone Librarylibrary’s automated catalog. There is even a teen room. Best of all is a wonderful porch where one can sit and enjoy reading, while gazing between the trees at the water. What more could one want!

Chebeague Island Library

Chebeague Island library heartMany years ago, on a cold winter’s day, a group of us from Long Island visited the Chebeague Island Library. Why? We were visiting various libraries to get ideas for our new library, which we were in the process of planning to build. Then librarian Martha Hamilton was our gracious host, showing us their beautiful library. It was warm and bright and colorful with various areas perfect for curling up with books, and a cozy and cheerful children’s area. It was definitely a delightful visit, which gave us much inspiration for planning our own library.

Today the library continues to be a bright spot for Chebeague residents – the current librarian, Deb Bowman, says…” We try to provide what the community needs or wants. … We have done so much here, dancing, drumming, movies, poetry (lots of poetry), art displays, music, and so much more. Book group, iPad classes, prayer book making,
and it goes on and on.” One clever idea was to dress up the front display table with bedclothes and invite patrons to fill out a card which asked “What do you read in bed?”

Deb says their mission statement drives her vision for the library: “The Chebeague Island Library provides a welcoming center to foster the learning of the entire Island Community. The Library cultivates knowledge and enjoyment and brings enrichment and stimulus to Chebeague through diverse collections, innovative technology, research and educational resources, programs and services in response to Island interests.”

For more information on the Chebeague Island Library see: http://chebeague.chebeague.lib.me.us/

and www.chebeague.org


More special libraries in Portland to investigate

A few months ago I wrote about the Maine Charitable Mechanics Association Library, as well as the Maine Irish Heritage Center Library – both of which are elegant destinations in and of themselves, let alone the books they hold. Here are a few more libraries to investigate:

The Greater Portland Landmarks Frances W. Peabody Library is located at 93 High Street, in the Stafford House. The GPL library is the “only library specializing in architecture, preservation, and restoration.” The staff is dedicated to making the collection of books and magazines on architecture, home improvement, and preservation a useful resource to members of the Landmarks, as well as researchers interested in the history of their house and neighborhood.

If art is your thing, the Maine College of Art’s Joanne Waxman Library on Congress Street has the best view and sunshine in which to relax and read. Although you have to be a student or own a library card to check books out, Library Director Moira Steven welcomes folks in the community to just enjoy reading, in this large open modern library, the numerous art books and periodicals that she has available. Moira says, “We have approximately 30,000 titles and 100 journal subscriptions, 85{a924d0e49cc5813a40c6e5abf88cc5a144f266a1cd8c3074f66db425794a7bb6} of which are art-related. Our Special Collections room holds over 500 titles, many of them examples of Victoria printing and binding as well as an artist book collection of over 150 titles.  We hold exhibitions of student and community art and thematic displays of art and design titles throughout the academic year.”

If your interests lean towards religion and spirituality, Portland is most fortunate to have the Bangor Theological Seminary General Theological Library. This library is in the same building as the State Street Church offices, just up the street from the Maine Irish Heritage Center. (Go upstairs for the church office, and downstairs for the Seminary offices, classrooms, and library). Librarian Laurie McQuarrie is available to help you navigate your way through their collections of theological books and periodicals. While their primary mission is to serve their faculty and students, the public is welcome to use the library. Sadly, though, this library will no longer be with us after next summer, as Bangor Theological Seminary will no longer be granting degrees, thus no library. So, visit this library while you can.

So, if art, architecture, and religion is your thing, these three downtown Portland libraries offer wonderful resources, including books to absorb and relish.